New Initiative Provides Summer Opportunities for Community Engagement
In summer 2014, three Oberlin College students participated in a new community service initiative--the President’s Public Service Fellowship--which provided funding for them to work full-time with a nonprofit or public sector agency in the city of Oberlin. The President’s Public Service Fellowship program focuses on summer programming and organizational capacity building that supports local youth, and was directed by Tania Boster at the Bonner Center for Service and Learning.
Miliaku Nwabueze ’16 was selected as the fellow for the city of Oberlin. She coordinated community training resources and provided mentoring services for a summer employment program for 11 youths ages 14-17. This is the first piece of an “employment pipeline” for Oberlin youth that will put them on a path to obtaining quality employment in Lorain County.
Sophia Paul ‘15 was selected as the fellow for Oberlin Community Services. She spent the summer training local teens who served as paid tutors in the Summer Learning Enrichment Program, designed to help 2nd-8th grade students excel through one-on-one lessons that cater to their interests and academic needs. Sophia also engaged five local teens in ecological and economic sustainability through the Oberlin Community Services Food Justice Initiative.
Peter Saudek ’15 was selected as the fellow for The Backspace at the Bridge and Oberlin Public Library, where he assisted the Bridge’s program coordinator to engage local youth in summer camps and regular drop-in hours. He also supported many other opportunities such as a new collaborative effort by the Library, Oberlin Heritage Center, and Firelands Association for the Visual Arts to cohost a free Lord of the Rings themed camp for local youth.
Over the course of the 10-week program, the fellows worked full time at their sites and met weekly for reflections and trainings. Sophia Paul, who had worked with Oberlin Community Services previously as a Bonner Leader, said, “I hope that the high school students learned as much as I did.” Assistant City Manager Wanda Davis in particular appreciated the time Miliaku Nwabueze spent working one-on-one with the high school students in the youth employment program to find out their interests, and designed her lesson plans accordingly. “This shows she is committed to providing experiences that are meaningful and helpful to each of them.”
The President’s Public Service Fellowship is made possible with funding from the Office of the President. “In keeping with Oberlin's tradition of community engagement, we are creating this new opportunity for students to fulfill their passion for public service within the Oberlin community,” says President Krislov. “This program will assist local agencies that fill a critical need in the community, while at the same time empowering students to cultivate change.”